Banbury socialists join colleagues working for justice and democracy at Levellers Day

The Banbury-based North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance joined others at Levellers Day at the weekend in the annual campaign for justice and democracy.

By Roseanne Edwards
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:23 am
North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance members, l - r, Steve Kilsby, Simon Garrett, Gary McDonald, Cassi Perry, Caroline Brookes and  Phil Richards with MP Richard Burgeon, second from right
North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance members, l - r, Steve Kilsby, Simon Garrett, Gary McDonald, Cassi Perry, Caroline Brookes and Phil Richards with MP Richard Burgeon, second from right

The 2022 event took place on Saturday, May 21 in Burford. Levellers Day is celebrated traditionally on the Saturday closest to May 17.

The modern remembrance of Levellers Day began in 1975. It is a day of debate, music and a celebration of the Levellers’ ideals of justice and democracy. Notable past attendees have included Tony Benn, Billy Bragg and Michael Foot.

Today the social and democratic conditions that were absent in 17th century England are taken for granted. Levellers Day gives the people the opportunity to celebrate those that fought so hard for them.

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The North Oxon Socialist Alliance banner seen at Levellers Day

Member Phil Richards said: “North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance (NOSA) continues in the spirit of the Levellers and proudly raised its banner at the traditional annual Levellers Day march in Burford last Saturday.

"NOSA is a group of like-minded socialists from across the north of the county who feel their voices are not being heard by the mainstream political parties and who feel that now is the time for movement and actions such as those pursued by The Levellers in the 1640s and 1650s.

"Our aim is the pursuit of a true socialist agenda based upon the core values that Jeremy Corbyn brought to prominence in the Labour Party, but which that party has now sadly deserted.”

The North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance is not a political party and is not affiliated to any political party, Mr Richards said.

The North Oxon Socialist Alliance banner from the back

During the Civil War, the Levellers fought on Parliament’s side. They had, at first, seen Cromwell as a liberator but now saw him as a dictator. They were prepared to fight against him for their ideals and he was determined to crush them.

The Levellers’ beliefs were quite radical for the time: they believed in equality, civil rights and religious freedom. They spread their message through peaceful means such as petitions and pamphlets.

The Banbury Mutiny of early May 1649, generated by pay and political demands, had to be crushed by Cromwell. On May 17, 300 of the Banbury mutineers were imprisoned in Burford Church. Three of the leaders were executed on Cromwell’s orders and it is those brave men that Levellers Day remembers each year.